over full (overwhelmed)

I’m not afraid of anything, I want it all
“Roman Holiday,” The National

i am over full
i am overwhelmed

when i cry i am over full
but i am not sad

when i go silent i am over full
but i am not mad

i sit here silent & crying
i sit here alone

“I’m not afraid of being alone
I just don’t know what to do with my time”

you ask me if i am sad
you ask me if i am mad

you think i want everything
you think i want too much

i am so over full with you
sometimes i can barely stand

when i cry i am over full
but i am not sad

when i go silent i am over full
but i am not mad

“I can’t look at everything
hard enough.”

i sit alone at a bar
beads on a pint of beer

asked if i am reading Vonnegut
i say it is a novel by a Korean writer

but nothing is about beer or a novel
i am crying & silent inside alone

that is not me on the barstool
drinking another pint as i read

i have fallen into the black-hole well of me
that is the black-hole well of you & us

if you are looking for me i am always
waiting for you at the bottom of this well

crawl inside of me
to be inside of you

like overwhelm
i am redundant

i am over full
i am overwhelmed

—P.L. Thomas


vertiginous (Notre-Dame cathedral is on fire)

Now, in this moment, I feel that vertiginous thrill course through me.
The White Book, Han Kang

You have no idea how hard I died when you left
“You Had Your Soul with You,” The National

Notre-Dame cathedral is on fire
and i am afraid

you cannot see through the smoke
how deeply i love you

how easily you can hurt me
undone like a blood letting

i grip your ankle
to keep from falling

but you have no idea
my head is spinning

since my hands often find
your ankles and feet

so i must close my eyes
trying to gain my bearings

leaving me mute against
wanting to tell you this:

you are lying on your bed
in only a dark gray dress

with your legs there
white and beautiful and there

i will never be able to hold
you long and tight enough

if only i could stop this vertigo
releasing myself to slip into you

like leaping casually into snow
blanketing the world with whiteness

and promising a gentle landing
like a spiral staircase to everything

Notre-Dame cathedral is on fire
but i am afraid

you will never know
how deeply i love you

in all ways and always
because i too am on fire

—P.L. Thomas

afraid of ghost (v.)

i am not afraid of ghosts (n.)
i do not believe in ghosts (n.)

i am afraid of ghost (v.)
i do believe in ghost (v.)

we used to cut all ties
we used to burn bridges

in times before email and texting
in times before reality was virtual

now we ghost by disappearing
now we ghost by no response

i am not afraid of absence
i am afraid of infinite silence

i don’t want you ever to leave me
but if you can no longer be part of us

i don’t want you to ghost me
i want your last eyes and last voice

i am not afraid of ghosts (n.)
i am afraid of ghost (v.)

i will be lonely if you leave me
i don’t want that to be my haunting

—P.L. Thomas

the sun was never at our fingertips

Now we’re swallowing the shine of the summer
There’s no saving anything
How we swallow the sun

“Runaway,” The National


the sun did not go down last night
the sun did not rise this morning

the sun in fact has always been a static thing
perpetual combustion as the center of the universe

we humans leave it in the spinning of this planet
and then we return as things called night and day


i am driving into the so-called sunrise
when i find a shining strand of your hair

on the hoodie i wore last night sitting next to you
your hair recently bleached and then dyed copper

we have argued about anyone being everything for anyone
a tug of war over wanting to be the center of the universe


this is not a dream
xxxxxxxxxxthis is daydreaming while driving

i tell you “i would have dated the drummer
xxxxxxxxxxif i had ever dated someone in a band”

before taking your fingers
xxxxxxxxxxnails freshly painted black
one at a time in my mouth

pausing between your left index finger and thumb
xxxxxxxxxxi say “the sun was never at our fingertips”

—P.L. Thomas

winter sunsets (driving away from you)

Air, love, and ideals were important, no argument there, but you couldn’t survive on them alone.
Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

i did this the day before thanksgiving
driving away from you into a winter sunset

i repeated the drive just a month later on xmas eve
driving away from you into a winter sunset

trees reaching black and skeletal into the sky
ribboned pink orange yellow and blue gray

i am driving alone and in the wrong direction
thinking about e.e. cummings “i carry your heart with me”

every time i am away from you i miss you and us
and i recognize in the ribboned winter sunset

no humans can construct anything as huge and wonderful
as the colors of a sky at twilight or loving you entirely

between these two drives came the winter solstice
the world tilting again toward spring and then summer

daylight expanding and warming as your palms on me
watching night fall and longing to return again to you

—P.L. Thomas

war in the time of commas

so many of the wars
seemed senseless in retrospect

all of them in fact

but it was the war eliminating commas
that proved to be most ridiculous

all the lives and limbs lost
to settle a matter of mechanics

who manufactured all those land mines
who manufactured this maze of rules

do you recognize me standing here
like an oxford comma hidden in a fist

this one-armed human trying to pause
our never-ending apocalypse of grammar

—P.L. Thomas

obelisks (dreams & memories)

“How much loneliness the truth can cause sometimes.”
Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

the first night you are away
i dream about you

excitedly you are telling everyone
you are going on study away

for a year

you speak to others as if i am not there
as i would not be while you are away

once before there was us
and i was the one leaving

you startled me sitting in my car
you out of breath from chasing me

just to wish me a safe trip
just to let me know you would miss me

this was well before us or any hope of us
so i could not step out of the car to hug you

i am not sure what to do with dreams
i am not sure what to do with memories

they rise sometimes like monuments
on the horizon of our minds and regrets

giant human-made spires reaching to heaven
telling us where to turn our eyes in hope

tekhenu you whispered in my ear

but i could not tell if this was a dream
i could not tell if this was some dim memory

because it stood so tall and so heavy
i could not move for hours

—P.L. Thomas